When you look for a job, it’s easy to fixate on the numbers and the statistics. If one position pays $60,000 per year and another pays $65,000 per year, you’re going to naturally gravitate towards the latter. If you’re offered a job in print and ink publishing or one in the IoT (Internet of Things), it will be extremely tempting to take the position in the booming tech business. However, there’s another important factor that should always be considered when you’re job hunting, or really choosing a career in the first place: your health. This isn’t just a plea to remember work-life balance as you establish your career, it’s a genuine concern with real, day-to-day implications.
Here are a few of the most profound ways that each job and even your entire career arc can impact your overall health.
The average American worker spends roughly 90,000 hours at work over the course of their life. 90,000 hours. Just let that sink in for a minute. That’s more time than you’ll spend eating, cleaning, and driving combined. In other words, you’re going to spend a ton of time at your office, so you want to make sure you’re safe from any short or long term health risks.
Some of these considerations are rather obvious. For instance, you want to look for a career that will allow you to work in a space that is up to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) code, generally safe from minor accidents, and other workplace hazards, such as a loud work environment in a warehouse or factory that could hurt your ears over time.
In addition, though, you want to look out for more nefarious things. For instance, sick building syndrome is a workplace condition that comes from poor air quality, caused by things like dust, bacteria, and dander that aren’t properly purified from the air of a workspace.
Along with generally addressing sick building syndrome, check to see if an office takes into consideration things like allergen awareness and control. Do they take the time to identify potential allergens, even if their space is already clean? Are they willing to run air conditioning during peak allergy season to cut down on the effects of the employees’ allergies?
From slip and fall accidents to long term concerns like allergens and asbestos, it’s important that you consider the healthiness (or lack thereof) of the workplaces that you’ll be spending nearly 100,000 hours of your life inhabiting.
Along with the physical space itself, it’s essential that you assess the work culture of the industries or companies that you could be working for.
Does the current leadership display many of the characteristics that all great bosses share? Are they looking to the future and making changes due to things like ever-advancing tech or remote work capabilities? After assessing the shifts and trends, are they able to properly implement changes and solicit feedback from their employees?
Another concern to keep in mind is if an employer is willing to overcome traditional issues within the American workplace, such as female equality, empowering workers, proper compensation, and work-life balance.
It’s even worth considering the ability or restrictions that a company might place on individuals finding success, being promoted, or even simply getting proper raises.
Finally, take time to assess how your own personal health and wellness will hold up if you pursue a particular job or career. For instance, a healthcare career such as a doctor or a surgeon is notoriously hard on one’s physical body, as hospital shifts can be abhorrently long and emotionally draining.
In addition, assess the risk of workplace accidents tied to a particular profession, since in the case of serious injuries, your workers’ compensation benefits may be significantly lowered or get denied. So, consider what asking for an attorney to review your case would entail.
Further, consider your physical needs and if you’ll be able to maintain them within the career you’re considering. This isn’t weighing whether or not you can get a massage or head off to the Caribbean on vacation every year. Your considerations should focus on basic, rudimentary things that can profoundly affect your quality of life, such as being able to maintain proper shelter, feed yourself well, and preserve your physical health.
As a final encouragement, don’t just focus on the physical with this one. Take time to assess how your career or a particular job might influence the state of your mind and emotions as well. Does a particular workplace have good communication? Does its leadership practice active listening? A lack of attention to perceived injustices at work can seriously affect your mental state. The same can be said for a threat of potential layoffs or economic insecurity, such as a position that lacks health insurance.
Considering Your Professional Health
Remember, while success may not necessarily lead to happiness, happiness is far more likely to lead you to success. If you position yourself to be genuinely happy and fulfilled at your job, you’ll be better equipped to succeed in the long run.
With that in mind, take the time to size up the environment and culture of each workplace as well as your career industry as a whole. In addition, consider how your own health and wellness will be affected by immersing yourself in a particular position and ensure it will truly be worth it for you over the long term.